Speaking Out: A Lamentation for Parrhesian Strategies

Curated by Sadira Rodrigues

“My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of truth-teller or truth-telling as an activity … Who is able to tell the truth? What are the moral, the ethical, and the spiritual conditions which entitle someone to present himself as, and to be considered as, a truth-teller? About what topics is it important to tell the truth? … What are the consequences of telling the truth? … And finally: what is the relation between the activity of truth-telling and the exercise of power, or should these activities be completely independent and kept separate? Are they separable, or do they require one another?”

-Michel Foucault, Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia (1983)

In a two-day forum, local and international speakers will consider the possibilities of “speaking out” in the context of cultural production. Speaking out describes adopting a position which is perceived to be oppositional to mainstream cultural production and which chooses to reveal the limitations or structures in the operation of power. Speaking out also implies a consequence to the act of intervening or critiquing these institutions. The act of speaking out is not only intellectual, but extends to the value of the speaker as a social individual, his or her place in society, the consequences on their cultural capital, and the ramifications of talking about things most people do not want to.

6:30PM / Sadira Rodrigues
7:00PM / Ken Lum
10:00AM / Sven Lütticken (virtual)
11:00AM / Ted Purves
12:30 – 1:30PM / Break
1:30PM / Ashok Mathur
2:00PM / Mohammad Salemy
2:30PM / Abbas Akhavan
3:30 – 5:00PM / Panel: Randy Lee Cutler, Ken Lum, Kristina Lee Podesva, Sadira Rodrigues


ABBAS AKHAVAN completed his BFA at Concordia University and his MFA at University of British Columbia. His practice includes drawing, painting, installation, video / performance, and site-specific ephemeral works. His work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally.

RANDY LEE CUTLER is a Vancouver based educator, curator, writer, artist, and performer orientated toward social change. She investigates the emergence of new cultural forms through an exploration of the intersections of gender, art, science, and technology. She has a PhD in Cultural History from the Royal College of Art, UK where she examined the subversion of the sciences in the surrealist enterprise. At present her practice lies in the translation of the ruptures between disciplinary models and the exploration of alternative possibilities for being in and interpreting the world.

SVEN LUTTICKEN is an Amsterdam based writer, critic, and historian. He contributes regularly to catalogues and art magazines such as Artforum, New Left Review, Afterimage, and Texte zur Kunst.

KEN LUM is a Vancouver based artist. His work is concerned with issues of identity, especially as they relate to image production in contemporary urban society. Lum has participated in Documenta XI, Shanghai Biennale, Sydney Biennale, Carnegie International, Sáo Paulo Bienal, Venice Biennale, and Johannesburg Biennale. His writing has been published in Art & Text, Art Margins, and Nka: The Journal of Contemporary African Art and Art ↦ Collections. He is Founding Editor of Yishu: The Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. More recently, Lum has been working on a number of public art commissions in Vancouver, Vienna, Toronto, Stockholm, Zurich, and Leiden that involve a language of critical urban politics. Lum was made a Guggenheim Fellow in 1998, and awarded a Killam Award for Outstanding Research.

ASHOK MATHUR is a writer, cultural organizer, and artist-researcher. He currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. His recent novels include Once Upon an Elephant, a contemporary re-visioning of the Mahabharata’s creation story of Ganesh, and The Short, Happy Life of Harry Kumar, a retelling of the Ramayana through the lenses of current globalized politics and movements. His most recent project, A Little Distillery in Nowgong, is a multifaceted novel tracing the migration of a Parsi family from pre-independence India through postcolonial contexts and travels.

KRISTINA LEE PODESVA is an artist, writer, and curator based in Vancouver. She is the founder of colourschool, a free school within a school dedicated to the speculative and collaborative study of five colours (white, black, red, yellow, and brown) and co-founder of Cornershop Projects, an open framework for engaging with economic exchange. She is also Co-editor at Fillip.

TED PURVES is a writer and artist based in Oakland. His public projects and curatorial works investigate the practice of art in the world, particularly as it addresses issues of localism, democratic participation, and innovative shifts in the position of the audience. Purves recently received a visual arts grant from the Creative Capital Foundation and a Creative Work Fund grant from the Elise and Walter Haas Foundation. His book, What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art, was published by State University of New York Press in 2005.

MOHAMMAD SALEMY is an artist and curator of the DADABASE Gallery. He is also known for his writing and activism. Born in Iran and a graduate of Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, he is currently a MA student at the University of British Columbia. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions locally and nationally

This project is supported by The Canada Council for the Art’s Assistance to Culturally Diverse Curators.
The project will include a publication co-published by Artspeak and West Coast Line.